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In Pursuit of Silence


Saturday, May 7, 2016 - 12:00pm
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - 6:30pm
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In Pursuit of Silence

Patrick Shen | 
 2015 | 
82 minutes

In 1952, artist and composer John Cage challenged the world with his seminal silent composition “4’33”, proclaiming that silence could, and should, be considered music. “Find the silence and you will find God,” he declared. In Pursuit of Silence extrapolates along similar philosophical and spiritual lines to offer a quietly nuanced portrait of our relationship with silence.

In the 21st century, cities are designed to have visual impact, and are far less concerned with the sonic ecology. Experts talk about how increased noise levels in hospitals leads to confusion and mistakes. Sonic stress has even been known to cause heart attacks. (Local folk might know that Vancouver is home to the World Soundscape Project, a seminal project initiated in the 1960s to study noise pollution.) George Prochnik, author of In Pursuit of Silence, says the etymological root of the word “silence” boils down to an interruption of our own egos in the world. To be silent is to look into oneself, so it’s little wonder in the age of noise and distraction, that our relationship with silence has become more critical than ever.

Patrick Shen’s meditative cinematography allows for a rich exploration of aural space — from the natural to the man-made — while a minimal piano score complements interviews with scholars, physicians, inventors, and monks as they discuss how silence is an integral and necessary part of being fully human. -SC


Patrick Shen

Patrick’s work, which includes the award-winning films FLIGHT FROM DEATH, THE PHILOSOPHER KINGS, and LA SOURCE, has screened at over 100 film festivals across the globe, been broadcast in over 25 territories, received 18 awards and 6 nominations, and been featured on CNN, INDIEWIRE, LA TIMES, and the WASHINGTON TIMES.